According to the 24 Solar Terms, January 20th marks "Major Cold" (大寒Da Han). After the Winter Solstice on December 21st, days started to get longer, which means Yang energy was born again and started to grow slowly. That is why even though January and February are generally the coldest winter months, “Major Cold” is considered the last winter node and the last node of the calendar overall while the “Beginning of Spring” is only 2 weeks away!
In our bodies winter season is governed by the Kidney organ. Kidney essence reflects congenital constitution, which in turn is nourished and supported by acquired constitution from our digestive system aka Spleen & Stomach. After having rich, heavy meals during the holiday season, it is now recommended to switch to clear, easy-to-digest foods to ease our GI tract.
Another organ to pay attention to during this time is the Lung. The air outside is still very dry and our lungs are negatively affected by this dryness. The Lung in Chinese Medicine is the most superficial organ and is therefore affected by external environment the most. In our current Covid-19 pandemic it is of extreme importance to protect the lungs by incorporating more moistening foods in our diet as well as running humidifiers to counteract the negative effect of indoor heaters. Lungs open into the skin and dry skin is a common complaint these days. Not only does environmental dryness exacerbate eczema, psoriasis and other chronic skin issues but also our constant hand washing & sanitizing creates dermatological issues even for healthy individuals.
A lighter diet that consists of nourishing soups, cooked vegetables and porridge can provide the necessary moisture to the tissues along with drinking more herbal teas and other warm liquids. The best medicinal food items to promote healthy looking skin are a white wood ear mushrooms (Yin Er 銀耳) and Asian pears. They both have a strong effect of moistening the lungs and the skin.
Other beneficial seasonal foods to include into our diet are rice, yams and peanuts. Since the weather still tends to stay cold it is too early to start any type of cleansing regimen. The warming strategy has to be maintained for another few months to promote our health. It means avoiding consumption of raw fruits and vegetables. If you tend to run cold or have weak Kidney energy, continue using warming spices like ginger, cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg.
I would also recommend continuing moxibustion treatments (heat therapy utilizing mugwort) whether it’s during your acupuncture session or doing it on your own at home. There are many types of moxa to pick from depending on the focus of the treatment or the level of convenience. Please reach out to us and we will help you pick the type that will work for you.
Our Biomat is another excellent tool that uses infra-red light, amethyst crystals and negative ions for its therapeutic action while warming the body, promoting blood circulation and boosting immune system to enhance your acupuncture treatment. Its warming properties go in-line with "Major Cold" seasonal recommendations. You can enjoy the benefits of the Biomat while getting your treatments in our office.
There are also particular acupuncture points that are worth mentioning, as they are especially effective during this time of year. Tonification point ST36 is never underestimated for its effect to strengthen digestion, build immune system and promote overall resistance to any negative external factors. Ren6 and Ren4 are also amazing at warming the kidneys and boosting the Yang Qi that translates into better energy and stamina. One of the strongest points to treat the symptoms of flu & common cold as well as itchy skin is San Cha San. It has also strengthening effect on the Kidneys making it a perfect choice for the season.
"Major Cold" is a reminder of our transition into the spring season. So take advantage of the remaining cold months, put on some cozy socks, wrap up in a warm sweater and kick back with a cup of mulled wine or hot apple cider.